I Peter 2:13-5:14; Jude 1:1-16
In the 80’s, the school district where I worked was in financial trouble. For two years they closed schools and laid-off dozens of staff. As a music teacher with less than ten years experience, I was expendable. I found out in April my contract wasn’t going to be renewed. All of us who received that news reacted differently. Some were angry and filed grievances with the union. Some took all their sick days and stayed home. Others plunged into deep depression. Me? I kept going. We had our spring production at the elementary where I taught music, and my bands put on their regular spring concerts. I didn’t get caught up in the complaining about the administration or obsessing about what I was going to do.
I was single, had rent to pay, and the bills kept coming in. But I didn’t have a sense of doom. As it turned out, after only one year, I was called back to that same district. And I stayed there for the next 30 years. One day I was sitting around the table in the teacher’s lounge and one of the teachers commented about my lay-off. She said she had watched me during that time and was amazed at how losing my job had not changed me. I told her I knew that the school board wasn’t in charge of my life, that God was in control and I trusted him. She said- I wish I had that same confidence. To which I replied – you can! I asked if she wanted me to tell her how and she said, maybe later. We never revisited that conversation but I pray a seed was planted that day that produced fruit.
Peter reminds us to live lives in such a way that when people ask us to give a reason for the hope we have, we will be ready. Because people are watching. They are judging God by what they see in us. They are wondering if having Jesus in their lives would be better than what they have without him and they are watching us to see if what we have is real.
If you have been on this ‘reading the Bible through in a year’ journey with me, you know that we lost my 22 year old nephew Geoffrey in an auto accident in June of 2012. I am not going to tell you that Geoff was a saint, or that he always did the right thing. But I would like to tell you the verse we put on his tombstone. It’s I Peter 3:8:
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
You see, Geoff lived his life like that. He was a peace-maker, he was kind to everyone and went out of his way to befriend the down-and-outers. He had a sweet spirit and a tender heart. And he had no idea how incredible he was. And people noticed. People still comment on Facebook or call his mom to say how much Geoff still means to them.
Friend, what do people see when they observe your life? Because they are watching, they are taking notes, and they are judging Christianity by what they see in you. For myself, I want them to see I Peter 3:8 in me. And I pray they will want Jesus in their lives because they see how amazing he is in me.
I believe if the things we read in I Peter 3:8 are evident in our lives, people will ask us to give a reason for the hope we have. Let’s pray that we’ll be ready to give them the answer and introduce them to their Savior. God bless you as you represent him today.